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Background

100A residential service went underground in early 1970s (California); AFAIK untouched since then. Service rises above ground outside corner of attached unfinished garage, enters through wall, then bends up 90 degrees to run up inside of wall and bends to enter in-wall-mounted meter from above.

Issue

Recently removed 25-year-old cardboard box that had blocked view of part of initial in-garage section of service entrance area conduit (still upstream of meter) and noticed the conduit has a gap in it !?! with apparently 3 service cables visible. Since the conduit seems to be secured nearby in both directions, maybe someone left it unfinished and forgot to come back and complete it?? To me, it seems the right end is 3-4 inches out of position, so I don't think it was just someone bumping previously mated conduit.

Question

Can I fix it and should I fix it? If so, what's a good way (I have class 00 rubber gloves, insulated electrician's screwdrivers and pliers)? It doesn't look to me like I can just pull the two conduit pieces together and tighten the two screws. Is this section of conduit my responsibility or the utility's? (inside garage, but still upstream of meter) I would really like to avoid calling the utility for at least the next few weeks, as we have activities scheduled and limited time for appts etc.

Gap area of conduit:

Gap in conduit by service entry Gap in conduit plus riser

Outside view of conduit entry - note 3/4" gap in caulking, as if conduit has pulled back relative to house.

Entry to garage

Cleaned-off gap region showing only 1 screw divot perhaps 1/4" from end of right conduit.

Cleaned up gap region showing only 1 screw divot

Inside section of conduit from gap running up wall (by stud, but not secured anywhere other than plumber's wrap at bottom and connection to meter on top), then sideways and connection to meter:

bottom of wall middle of wall to meter

Update - my theory based on harper's, ed's, dan's and the other very helpful comments: (more photos added)

  1. Original installation had gap closed, but with only a tiny overlap barely enough for one set screw to be tightened (single screw divot visible right at end of right conduit on new photo with conduit brushed off; former black oval was just debris). Plumbers strapping may have been original; from ground outside up until connection to meter, conduit is secured nowhere else.

  2. At some point, conduit outside at wall entry moved out about 3/4" relative to wall, as shown by gap in caulking. I think this is sufficient to explain the gap in the conduit -- with only one screw securing the inside connection and the strapping preventing the sweep/vertical run from following along, the connection separated.

Update - My Plan:

  1. As suggested in answers, remove plumbers strapping

  2. As suggested in answers, undo the 2 set screws on connection by gap; gently manhandle right sweep into connector past both screws and tighten set screws appropriately (anyone have a suggested torque?). Perhaps I should secure vertical stretch of conduit first so as to not stress conduit attachment to meter.

  3. Secure incoming conduit before connection and after connection to wall studs or blocking using proper straps. Also secure vertical segment to stud/blocking using proper strap. 3 new straps in total - one before gap, one after, one on vertical. Is that sufficient?

Finally, a big thanks for the great answers and comments! I have not dealt with metallic conduit before and it was nice to learn this seems like a straightforward fix.

Research:

Found this related question which is for outdoor PVC conduit but suggests the conduit section is my responsibility, not the utility's: Gap in conduit running to electric meter

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  • Usually everything from the pole to the meter is no touch. Meter to inside the house is yours. That looks like metal conduit and metal conduit is used as ground path, this could be a problem as in breaking/losing safety ground. Ask your utility. Odd only two cables, usually two hots and a neutral for feeds. It probably can wait if it waited 25 years, a couple of months should not matter.
    – crip659
    Jul 30, 2022 at 20:18
  • No pole - some sort of underground vault out under the sidewalk is where the connection is made, then it runs underground and comes up right next to the garage. The other question I found here indicated that the utility's responsibility ended at the underground vault, except for the meter itself. I will call my utility and ask them about that.
    – Armand
    Jul 30, 2022 at 20:27
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    there is a ring of less corroded metal on the lip of the male pipe gap, suggesting it was and could be fitted back together into the coupler. You might have to loosen the strapping as the house could have shifted with age, but the metal shouldn't have gotten any smaller than when it used to fit.
    – dandavis
    Jul 30, 2022 at 20:36
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    @crip69 Looking at the gap more closely there are indeed 3 cables inside, not just 2.
    – Armand
    Jul 30, 2022 at 20:47
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    @armand there is a small divot on the end in line with the big one further in this pipe is absolutely the homeowners responsibility as it was pulled out the oval divot is proof it was that far in and was stepped on or kicked, since plumbers tape was used to anchor it it is an easy fix but the sweep 90 may have bent a bit as indicated by the rotation of the divot to the screws. This should be an easy fix but start by unscrewing the 2 screws. And it may take 2 people because of the diameter one on the end and another with a bar to push it back, I have done a similar repair a few dozen times.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 30, 2022 at 23:19

2 Answers 2

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It sorely needs to be fixed, and it's all on you.

You own the conduit and wire between the weatherhead or splice box and your panel.

I agree somebody "phoned this job in", but I suspect the pipe did connect but moved at some point. Probably from being hit. Is it in a location vulnerable to being hit? And then somebody noticed it flopping and rearranged the hokey universal pipe strap to hold it so it wouldn't flop so much. That pipe strap is pure hokey-town - that is not a proper conduit strap. 2" conduit straps are enormously beefy things.

You need to undo the strapping, back off the setscrews on the Rigid-EMT coupler, push it back together, tighten those set screws, and then come up with a proper way with timber to brace the backside of that pipe so it won't move again, and then use proper made-for-EMT straps. They do make 1-screw EMT straps which attach from one side.

If this is too edgy for you, get a pro electrician in. The power company can remotely shut off most smart meters, but they can also tangle you up in permit issues. In my opinion you don't need a permit for a repair where you're not changing anything.

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  • from the witness mark it looks like the conduit only ever reached the first screw
    – Jasen
    Jul 31, 2022 at 11:23
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It was assembled correctly it is obvious to anyone that dose this work notice the 2 divots on the sweep 90 one is deep the other on the edge it is a rigid to emt connection with a 2 screw that is where it was assembled and someone stepped on it and pulled it apart is what normally happens,

I have seen this on straight sections that were knocked out of position and 90’s many times.

How to fix it: loosen both screws on the coupling notice how it is twisted this needs to be reversed probably bent the sweep 90 a bit so it will need to be pulled back into position and the set screws secured again.

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